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If I were to subscribe to the notion of 'guilty pleasures', then this film would fall into the category. As a teenager, I enjoyed reading Harold Robbins well written trash novels. After seeing "The Carpetbaggers" and several other adaptations, I'd have to say "The Adventurers" is the closest in spirit to Robbins original. This is in part because it was made in the 'Post-Code' era (after 1968) and is very explicit regarding the sex and violence. The trailer was narrated by Rod Serling and the tag line was 'Nothing has been left out of The Adventurers' which was true.
Although they updated the story by a decade (so they could include sixties' pop imagery), it follows the novel closely. Many criticize BenKim's performance but his deadpan libertine is similar to Mastroianni's in "La Dolce Vita" and appropriate for the story. The rest of the cast is fun with Borgnine hamming it up and Candace Bergen sexy. Thommy Bergen was the star of "Elvira Madigan" a few years earlier and Rosanno Brazi the lead in "South Pacific". The production value is excellent and the action scenes well done with Lewis Gilbert's famous flying bodies that he utilized in "You Only Live Twice". Anne Coates was the editor and she repeated her sound overlaps she introduced in "Lawrence of Arabia". The cinematography and music were also top notch. The original prints were in Technicolor and Panavision. Some four track magnetic stereo copies were made along with a 70mm blow up print in Eastmancolor.
The original cut ran twenty minutes longer. The cut sequences can be assertained by reading "The Making of the Adventurers" paperback book. The film was released with an R rating and re-issued in a PG version with the nudity cut but violence intact. The video version is the standard 170 minute version but not the Preview cut. The premiere was quite unusual. They showed it on a new supersonic jet to the cast and press as it circles Los Angeles! A 16mm promo film was made of the event and is floating around collector circles. The astonished look on Ernest Borgnine's face and he enters the plane for the 'premiere' is amusing.
The film was not a bomb as is usually stated and grossed ten million which was quite good for 1970. Unfortunately, it cost the same amount although I'm sure Paramount is in the black with the network showings and videocasette release.
This type of film is an acquired taste but it's one of the best of this genre. I think it's a hoot full of unintentional laughs and great action and imaginative sex scenes.
Richard W. Haines
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